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Adding a Twist to the Normal Cocktail: Meet Cody Goldstein, Founder of Muddling Memories

Cody Goldstein, photo credit Chelsea Curtis

Cody Goldstein, photo credit Chelsea Curtis

As Six Degrees Society has evolved I’ve believed more in the idea of the “Manbassador”. What is a Manbassador you ask? It’s that guy that goes above and beyond to help develop the career and business of women in his life. For me, it’s been enlightening and pivotal to receive the  feedback and encouragement from men who hadn’t even attended the event, we are a women focused networking group after all. So to help provide a greater understanding of what Six Degrees Society is all about we created a monthly co-ed networking event (that is being rolled out across all chapters in 2016) to share the experience of curated networking with men and women.

Additionally, like the career profiles and city guides that we write, we will be sending out a weekly write-up on our favorite manbassadors. Our debut write up features the charming Cody Goldstein of Muddling Memories.  Cody left the world of finance to pursue his artistic cocktail making dream and in 2015 was nominated as one of New York’s best bartender’s by Time Out New York. Read on about his journey and some of the most hidden bars in NYC.  

1. I'm a big fan of a good pun and it seems like you are too. Can you tell me a bit more how you settled on the names of your books and company?

Well I am a very big believer that cocktails should be playful and delicious. The goal for me is to get someone to chuckle when they read the name of a drink. I take a lot of my cues from things I grew up loving. When it came to making the names for the books, I must give the credit to the author Tim Federle. He is a writing genius and enjoys a great pun just as much as I do. I think thats one of the reasons why we were able to get together and come up with these really entertaining cocktail books. As for Muddling Memories,  I am a huge fan of alliterations and the purpose of my cocktails is to evoke a time, place or experience in someone's past that puts a smile on their face.

2. You used to be a finance guy and now you wear fedoras. How did you make the jump from finance to mixology? Did you have a background in spirits or had you worked at a bar?

It is true. In my former life I was a suit and tie guy. I spent many years working for someone and something that I never truly felt passionate about. I always had this burning desire deep down to be around food and hospitality. I had a short stint working for Zagat which reassured me that my love for restaurants was not just a hobby. I am a firm believer that everyone should follow their passion and if you find yourself unhappy in your day to day life that change can be a great thing.

My first gig in hospitality was as a bartender at a Thai restaurant. During the interview they never once asked to see my bartending skills and I never once offered them because I had ZERO experience. I ran home in excitement and went straight onto youtube and started searching "how to bartend" videos. I watched those tutorials for 2 days straight up until my first shift. I faked it until I made it!! It has now been about 5 years and I am still constantly striving to keep learning.

3. What inspired you to start your own company? How does one become an "expert" in your field?

I was a DJ for 15 years (My name was DJ Code: E). I was always at events that focused so much on the Food and Music but left the bar as an afterthought. Once I started bartending and realized how amazing the cocktail culture was, I saw a big opportunity to offer exciting drink options at these events. I truly wanted to make the bar an event within an event. The bartenders would be engaging and the cocktails should be the same high quality as the food. Using both my connections and relationships I was able to start meeting the right people who could teach me how to grow my business.

I think you have become an "expert" in your field when people start reaching out to you for advice. I can't tell you the exact time or how it happened but it is a very rewarding feeling. I think those that are truly passionate and eager to learn about their industry can become experts. The key for me is to always keep challenging myself and never think I know everything. One piece of advice I would give anyone who wants to get involved in hospitality and/or bartending is to make sure you genuinely want to offer someone a great experience. I have had the incredible opportunity to have worked just about every job their is in a restaurant. To see things from each perspective has helped me understand how to better serve a guest. More important then a great cocktail is the ability to make the person sitting in front of you be excited to be there and feel a sense of home.

4.  You had described mixology as an art form, tell me what you would call your perfect cocktail? Can you share with us a few bars we need to check out but may never have heard of?

A perfect cocktail should be balanced. What that means is essential all of the components should play nicely with each other so that when you take a sip you can identify all of the flavors and not one flavor is over powering or dominating the others in an unpleasant way. You see bartenders using jiggers a lot more these days and that is so we can measure what we pour to the smallest amount because things like a little too much lemon juice or too much bitter like Campari can really sway the flavor of the cocktail. My favorite cocktail is called a Jungle Bird. Its a tiki style cocktail that has so many flavors that dance graciously together (bitter, sweet, tart, herbaceous  but each bartender has their own take on it so it's never really the same wherever I go, which I like.

Their are so many great bars that have opened recently or have been around for years in the city it's hard to name just a few. One of my favorite bars is The UP and UP in Greenwich Village. It's one of those bars that is kinda hidden and has this amazing retro feel on the inside. It's like a little slice of paradise hidden in what is a mostly collegiate focused part of the city. One of their bartenders is a team member of Muddling Memories, Jacob Tschetter. He is a genius when it comes to the molecular side of bartending. He has taught me a lot and is doing some really exciting things at his bar. Another cool spot is called Teddy's at Norwood. It's like a secret on top of a secret. It's a speakeasy inside a private members club that is putting out some amazing cocktails. One of my colleagues and another team member,  Martin Preusche, is a lead bartender there and is doing some awesome twists on classics. Outside of the city I always love going to a place in Philly called Hop Sing Laundrymat. My buddy Le is the owner and runs the bar with an iron fist and a no sneaker and no photos policy. If you can abide by his rule you will get into one of the most incredible lists of spirits i have seen in any bar.

5. Can you share some advice to people thinking about starting their own company?

First and foremost I would say you need to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Confidence is very infectious and you can get people to rally behind what you are doing if you have an air of assurance. Secondly, I think its super important to network and make solid relationships in the field you are looking to work in. If you haven't gone to a Six Degree Society event I HIGHLY suggest it. The events have been more helpful to my business then I could have ever imaged and just about every one of my "Matches" has been incredible to speak with. Lastly, if you love what you do then it no longer becomes work. Everyday I  am blessed to have conversations about things I get excited about (food, cocktails, hospitality). While I learned a lot working in corporate land, the one thing that was most glaring was I needed a creative outlet. This field has allowed me to not only stay creative but also allowed me to meet some incredibly smart and hospitable people.

6. You are the first man I've featured on Six Degrees Society and you are officially a "manbassador". What does being a "manbassador" mean to you? 

I have always dreamed of being someone's Manbassador, so I thank you :) But in all seriousness it is truly an honor to be featured. I'm hoping this will encourage both men and women to offer advice regarding their success and hopefully help inspire others. The great thing about Six Degrees Society is it is just that, a society. Everyone is eager to help one another because we understand how challenging it can be to meet likeminded people in this crazy but amazing city.  
As a "Manbassador", I will make it my mission to help assist any member of the Six Degree Society that I come across. I am a big believer in great relationships facilitates great business.